Gardening Sustainably - our top tips to help you grow more and use less!
Did you know there are many simple ways to be more sustainable in our gardens, all while improving the health of our soil and plants? Sustainability, in both our practices and our designs, is a core value in our business, and we are always looking for ways to reduce waste and create healthy garden ecosystems for our plants to thrive.
At its core, sustainability in the garden is really about working to enhance nature and its processes rather than going against it. Additionally, gardening sustainably uses recycled materials, reduces the use of natural resources, and requires less maintenance than conventional gardening. So it's win/win!
Here are a few of our top tips. Most are easy to employ, can save you time, money and effort in the long run, and, most importantly, will help your gardens to thrive! Increase the fertility of your soil. Healthy soil is essential to giving your plants the nutrients they need to grow strong and endure our ever-changing weather. Here are a few good tips to keep your soils in tip-top shape.
Apply a layer of mulch to prevent evaporation loss and water runoff, and keep the soil cool.
Use organic fertilisers and make sure that you follow the instructions carefully. Be mindful of using them at the correct application rates.
Organic compost is a must! It will improve your soil immediately and introduce microorganisms that will continue improving your soil by further breaking down organic matter.
Dig and turn your soil as little as possible to avoid disrupting the bustle of activity going on below the ground - add 2.5cms of compost to the top of your soil, and cover with mulch. Then let the earthworms work it in for you!
Start a compost bin, worm farm, or green waste service. As you can imagine, our landfills are jam-packed with green waste. When left to decay, it creates enormous amounts of methane gas. Compost bins and worms farms are relatively easy to set up at home and are perfect for diverting food scraps and green waste from landfills. And, of course, they create lots of excellent organic matter for your garden! If you have enough space in your garden, you could easily have both set up as each has its pros and cons. A compost bin is the more versatile of the two systems as you can put nearly all of your green waste in it; however, the waste can take several months to break down. (Below, a worm farm from Bunnings Warehouse).
Worms are much fussier and don't like garden clippings, lemons, tomatoes, bread or pasta, to name a few, but they do their work much more quickly, and you'll be draining out your worm juice in about a month. If you're keen to learn more about the specifics of composting, check out The Compost Collective to see their online courses and workshops. Alternatively, if the thought of worm juice and compost makes you feel a tad queasy, Green Gorilla provides an excellent residential green waste service. You won't get the satisfaction of making your own compost, but you'll be diverting a large amount of green waste from the landfills!
Reduce your water consumption. We are so lucky to have built-in rainwater storage tanks in Hobsonville Point. However, Conserving as much water as possible in the garden is still good practice. Here are our top tips to keep water consumption down but still ensure that your plants stay happy and healthy.
1. Mulch, mulch, mulch! We've already discussed the importance of using mulch and adding organic matter to the garden. Mulching helps to keep the moisture locked in and reduces evaporation during the summer months. It really is the most important place to start!
2. Recycle water where you can. For those of you living outside of Hobsonville, consider installing a rainwater collection tank in your garden. There's a good selection available to suit different sizes and spaces, ranging from a basic Mitre 10 option to designer tanks that come in an array of colours and styles. There are also thin tanks that can be installed flat against a wall and even flexible bladder tanks that can lay flat on the ground. Below - Natura 350l rainwater tank.
Think about where you can save water from inside your household. From a glass of ‘old’ water to the water you cook your pasta in – it all counts! I keep a bucket in the shower to collect the water while waiting for it to run hot. I even use the water that comes out of my clothes drier! You can save this water in plastic jerry cans or lidded buckets.
3. Choose hardy plants
Grow plants that have good drought tolerance. Native plants are always a good option as they are already adapted to our natural climates. Once established, flaxes, grasses, astelias and coprosmas all have low watering requirements. There are also plenty of non-native plants that are drought tolerant, and a good design plan will take your aesthetic style and maintenance commitments into consideration before planting. 4. Consider when and how you water the garden. To avoid losing water to evaporation, it's best to water your plants in the morning before the sun gets too high. Water plants deeply and less often rather than a light sprinkling every day. This encourages deep root growth and a more robust constitution. 5. Raise your garden beds. Keeping the area raised and enclosed will help to retain water for longer. Even a simple retaining wall built at a depth of about 25cm can keep groundwater from leaving your garden too quickly.
We’ve helped many customers create beautiful and low-maintenance small gardens that can be enjoyed all year round. Our designers specialise in urban gardens, terraced housing, balconies, and decks. If you are considering transforming your outdoor space, don't hesitate to get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.